Detroit Institute of Arts Faces $170 Million Fundraising Challenge

Detroit Institute of Arts Faces $170 Million Fundraising Challenge

A year after the City of Detroit emerged from bankruptcy, the Detroit Institute of Arts, which was part of an $816 million "grand bargain" aimed in part at preventing the liquidation of its collection to help pay the city's bills, is at a crossroads, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Over the past twelve months, the independent nonprofit museum achieved its goal of raising $100 million to satisfy its obligations under the bankruptcy settlement, launched statewide exhibition and education programs, and saw Salvador Salort-Pons, a DIA curator, assume leadership of the institution from longtime director Graham Beal. At the same time, the institute is facing the challenge of building an endowment of at least $400 million before regional taxpayer support is withdrawn in 2022. Of the museum's current annual budget of $35 million, roughly $22.5 million comes from a ten-year millage approved in 2012; at a 5 percent draw of $20 million annually, a $400 million endowment would cover most of the shortfall when the millage expires.

It won't be easy, however, for DIA to raise the $170 million needed to boost the endowment to $400 million. On one hand, now that the institution is independent of city government, donors need not worry that the financially troubled city might try to siphon away their contributions. On the other, in negotiating the grand bargain, the museum lost nearly two years and $100 million in potential gift income — that is, the amount donors gave last year to maintain the integrity of its collection. "Our donors are certainly feeling a certain level of fatigue after we raised $100 million for the grand bargain," said DIA chief operating officer Annmarie Erickson. "Donor fatigue is a real problem for us and for others in our town."

DIA board chair Gene Gargaro told the Free Press the museum will have to diversify its funding base and look beyond Michigan to individuals and foundations with an interest in Detroit. Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation, which contributed $100 million to help underwrite the grand bargain, said DIA has to build on its track record of artistic excellence and the substantial progress it has made toward broadening its engagement with the city.

Asked if there is enough money in Detroit to go around, Rapson was optimistic. "Yes there is, without question," he told the Free Press. "When you piece together the folks who for a very long time have and will continue to have a deep interest in making sure there is balance and excellence and a future for our major arts and cultural institutions, I think the answer is unequivocally this community can support that — particularly as we move into a less economically distressed time."

Mark Stryker. "Detroit Rising: The DIA's $170 Million Challenge." Detroit Free Press 11/22/2015.